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Judge removes BPA from California's Prop 65 list

By: Gayle S. Putrich

April 19, 2013

WASHINGTON — Bisphenol A has been removed from California's list of harmful chemicals, at least for the time being.

A California judge granted a preliminary injunction Friday in the American Chemistry Council's case against a division of the state's Environmental Protection Agency.

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment had quietly announced its decision to include the controversial polycarbonate component on the so-called Proposition 65 list on April 11. But ACC asked the courts to freeze the listing until after a decision in its pending lawsuit, filed against OEHHA in Sacramento County Superior Court on March 15.

"We do not believe there is a scientific basis for including BPA on the Proposition 65 list and we look forward to our case being heard on the merits sometime this summer," said Steve Hentges, executive director of ACC's polycarbonate and BPA global group, after the injunction was issued.

The removal of BPA from the list is effective immediately, OEHHA spokesman Sam Delson said Friday afternoon.

Delson also said OEHHA is withdrawing its proposal for setting "safe harbor levels" for BPA. That effort would have determined if products must carry a label warning consumers that a product could expose them to more than the maximum allowable dose level (MADL). Should BPA end up back on the list of possible carcinogens and reproductive toxicants, labeling requirements would go into effect one year after listing.

California's Proposition 65, approved by voters there in 1986, requires businesses to notify citizens when significant amount of chemicals are present in products, workplaces, public spaces or released into the environment. OEHHA administers the Prop 65 program, including managing the list of potentially harmful chemicals.

In July 2009, OEHHA's Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee (DART-IC) voted unanimously that BPA did not belong on the Prop 65 list, based largely on the findings from a 2008 report by the National Toxicology Program.

ACC's lawsuit says the new attempt to get BPA on the Prop 65 list — using a different mechanism but the same scientific studies — amounts to circumventing the state's scientific process by allowing administrative staff to override the scientific panel's 2009 decision.

A major concern for ACC, and the plastics industry overall, is that listing BPA, a key component of polycarbonate and certain epoxy resins, could result in preemptive deselection by manufacturers and consumers avoiding a large number of plastic products without a full understanding of the amount of BPA they are being exposed to or the potential effects of the chemical.